Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Managing People Tip 9


Who to delegate a task to

Find out about yourself

The Management Potato

Encouraging ideas


Something for your office wall

The unbroken chain

Are you a successful manager?

Monkey rules

What are managers really for?

Person in hole

Getting your hands dirty

Weekly meeting

Some awkward questions

The three Value Disciplines

Captain of the ship

It's a longer one this week.


28 rules for not picking up "monkeys" from your people!


Semi-humour semi-deadly-serious. Hope you find it useful.

1. A monkey is whatever the next move is when the dialogue between two parties breaks off.

2. For every monkey there are two parties involved - one to work it and the other to supervise it. The phrase "How's it coming?" shows who has which role.

3. If all your subordinates frequently ask you "How's it coming?" then you are working for them now, and we have one worker and five bosses. This is not good!

4. Aim to always have more time for your subordinates than they have for you.

5. When a monkey moves from subordinate to boss the boss is crippled a little more by the weight and the subordinate is also crippled by having to wait for the boss to take action.

6. The purpose of avoiding taking monkeys is not to escape work - it is to get as much box 3 time for yourself as you can while building up the confidence and morale of your team. People LIKE making their own decisions!

7. Every monkey has a home room, and it's with the subordinate unless he can prove otherwise.

8. If you pick up three monkeys a day from five people who work for you that's 75 monkeys a week. And you'll probably only get rid of 10 so they pile up at a rate of 65 a week.

9. Any form of behaviour that you reward will reinforce. So if you sort out their problems for them they will bring you more and more.

10. It's easier to resist monkeys coming across from him than to get them off you and back on him.

11. Boss doing nothing by next meeting is procrastination - easy to do and to get away with. Subordinate doing nothing by next meeting is insubordination - hard to get away with, so less likely to happen, so the subordinate should have as many actions as possible.

12. Danger phrases: "Boss, we've got a problem", "What are we going to do about..."..13. A subordinate isn't a person with more monkeys for you, he is a back with space ready to take monkeys from you.

14. Make a list of all the monkeys and say "These are the decisions that are holding you up". Ask him to sort them into two piles - ones That are his job to action and ones that are your job to action. You can still help people. But at no time while you are helping them with their problem does their problem become your problem.

15. It's OK to say "What I would do..." but you should add "But you are not me and the decision is yours to make".

16. Remember that you are not in the business of tearing people down, you are in the business of building them up.

17. Get him to put his monkeys (listed or on cards) in priority order. (Don't read the list! - it's his, not yours).

18. Get him to decide which of "your" monkeys he will tackle next. Call them "decisions to make" rather than "problems to solve".

19. What if a subordinate comes up with next to nothing by next time (completely nothing would be insubordination)? Well it's still better than you having the monkey and doing nothing at all with it!

20. With big scary decisions, still give it to him, but make sure he has to check with you before actually taking the action which he decides upon. No risk!

21. If his decision is wrong, ask him for another one or to check it with accounts or whoever - don't correct it by telling him your answer.

22. Put the next meeting in your diary. Then it will be insubordination if he either doesn't show up, or shows up with nothing.

23. Other monkey ploys: "How shall I do this?" - "Bring me a list of ideas".

24. "Which choice should I go for?" - list out the pros and cons. Then - "how long will it take you to evaluate and make the choice?"

25. "Should I or not?" - "Up to you"

26. "This is one for you to decide" - either no it isn't, or break it down / list options / how long to assess and decide / talk to others and decide.

27. "A report for you to read" - highlight the main points for me / summarise the main points / list the actions required / sort these into my job and your job.

28. "Please could you see the Marketing Director and get..." - phone the director there and then and arrange to the monkey giver to go and see him for you.

onwards and upwards


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